Darren Aronofsky knows the joy of winning the Venice film festival's top prize _ and this year it will be his job to help award it.
The director heads the jury at the 68th Venice Film Festival, which opened Wednesday. He said he doesn't remember ever seeing such an "exciting" lineup.
Nearly half of the competitors are high-powered English-language films, a sign of of Venice's growing prestige.
Aronofsky says Venice had been both beautiful and cruel to him. "Black Swan" opened last year's festival, and he won the Golden Lion in 2008 for "The Wrestler." "The Fountain" was less warmly received in 2006.
Twenty-three films are vying for the Golden Lion, to be awarded Sept. 10. Aronofsky says he'll be looking for the films that affect him most "emotionally and intelectually."